Hospital puts pressure on sick boy to go home
A teenage boy who has collapsed three times since July because of bleeding on his brain is desperately trying to hold on to a hospital bed while he awaits a vital operation.
David Murtagh (16) has been waiting since the end of July for surgery at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin to remove a potentially serious cavernoma, or growth, from his brain. Last night, it was still uncertain whether an appointment due for today would go ahead.
His mother May said he model Leaving Cert student from Sligo has had his anxieties compounded by repeated attempts by Sligo General Hospital to discharge him until the surgery goes ahead.
"David is in a terrible state," she said. "He is totally stressed out. They have made it very clear they want him to vacate the bed. They need the bed and they want him out of hospital -- but how can I take him home?
"He has already had three collapses and I have witnessed two of them. I could not handle it happening again."
The teenager shot to prominence last June when he became the youngest person to be elected chairman of a local residents' association in Molloway Place, after he had successfully led action to tackle a house over-run by cats.
But just weeks later, he collapsed while serving a customer in a local department store where he had a summer job.
He was rushed to Sligo General Hospital, but was discharged from casualty four hours later after being told that he had probably fainted.
Ten days later, his mother discovered him unconscious, with blood coming from his mouth. An MRI scan at Sligo General revealed bleeding on his brain.
"The doctor told me he had a lesion and would need surgery in Beaumont and that he would be going that night or the following morning," his mother explained.
When this didn't happen, his doctors said they were happy for him to go home and wait there to be called for surgery.
However, May refused to take her son home and on August 10 he was taken to Beaumont Hospital, where he was diagnosed as having a small growth on his brain, which had to be removed.
Surgery was scheduled for the week of August 23. Staff in Sligo assured David and his mother that with medication, he would not collapse again and could go home.
But a week later, David did collapsed again -- this time in a restaurant -- and he remained unconscious for eight minutes.
By chance, a paramedic from New York was present and attended to him while they awaited an ambulance.
Since then, he has been in hospital but has been asked on several occasions to give up his bed. On one occasion, his mother claimed a consultant told him that he was "being unfair".
"David told them he didn't care if Mary Harney wanted the bed, they were not getting it until his bed was ready in Dublin. We are not taking chances with his life.
"All we want is for David to have this operation, so his life can get back to normal.
"They can't guarantee us that he will not collapse again," she said.
A spokesperson for Beaumont Hospital confirmed that David was scheduled for admission today for a procedure, subject to the availability of a place.
A spokesperson for the HSE West also confirmed that his admission to Beaumont Hospital for surgery was dependent on the availability of a bed.
The spokesperson added that in line with best practice, all patients at Sligo General Hospital "had a full multi-disciplinary clinical assessment prior to their discharge" which determined their suitability for discharge.